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Critique of the Week – Runner Up

Critique of the Week – Runner Up

Ernest just imbues his reviews with such intellectual play that they almost always stand out. Another beauty. Oh. He also mentions the Lemon in this one so there’s that… DOCTOR ANONYMOUS Ernest Kearney – Working Author Joel Daavid is an excellent designer and for “Doctor Anonymous” now playing at the Zephyr theatre on Melrose he [...]

The Saturday Saying

The Saturday Saying

  “Opening night for this show was interesting in one regard, half the house, literally half the house, was press. I haven’t seen such a cluster of critics and reviewers assembled for an opening night since I don’t know when. (Kudos to publicist Lucy Pollak). I couldn’t help thinking if an asteroid struck the place [...]

"Doctor Anonymous" at the Zephyr. Photo; Ed Krieger.

DOCTOR ANONYMOUS: 70% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Based on the true story of Dr. John Fryer, the Philadelphia psychiatrist who bravely came out at the Association’s Philadelphia conference in 1972, Doctor Anonymous is a well-intentioned piece that suffers from a too-episodic structure whose scenes don’t always fit together smoothly. Kurt Gardner – Blog Critics SWEET This is a world-premiere production of [...]

The Visceral Company presents Karen Nicole and Mark Souza in "Recall" at the Lex Theatre. Photo: Company.

RECALL (VISCERAL COMPANY): 80% – SWEET

SWEET Clark is smart to envision a near-future, fear-based world that’s taken its cue from the chilling rash of school shootings that have occurred over the past decade or so—even if Quinn, the loner who befriends Lucy, is a little predictable in his black trench coat and military boots. The current-topicality of it engages. And [...]

FLYIN’ WEST (ICT): 77% – SWEET

FLYIN’ WEST (ICT): 77% – SWEET

SWEET In her Opening Night remarks, International City Theatre artistic director desai referred to ICT’s ongoing efforts to reach out to a more ethnically diverse audience. Flyin’ West succeeds in doing just that, and wonderfully so, while at the same time being far more than a mere “niche-audience” production. Well worth being seen by playgoers [...]

TOP GIRLS (ANTAEUS): 100% – SWEET

TOP GIRLS (ANTAEUS): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Eventually there was a revelation on many levels making this one of the most unique theatrical experiences in my more than half century of theatrical experiences. Go and watch this show. You will experience fine acting, considerable wit and a deeply poignant story. Ron Irwin – LA Examiner SWEET English playwright Caryl Churchill examines [...]

Critique of the Week (On a Monday)

Critique of the Week (On a Monday)

This is – as always – a top notch review from Ernest, but what I like most about it is this sort of “side bar” he takes in the middle of it to basically “dress down” another production that took issue with one of his other reviews, which he leaves nameless. It’s a schizophrenic excursion [...]

"The Wrong Man" at the Skylight Theatre. Photo:

THE WRONG MAN: 93% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET At fourteen songs, and one act that’s slightly less than an hour, this is more a cabaret performance than a musical. It has a skeletal plot: In Las Vegas, Duran (Ross Golan) a simple man meets Mariana (Jennifer Brasuell) a sexy bad girl, with catastrophic results. After a one nightstand, he’s framed for her [...]

CLOSELY RELATED KEYS: 78% – SWEET

CLOSELY RELATED KEYS: 78% – SWEET

SWEET Wendy Graf brings the audience a complicated script that deals with a lot more than 9/11 and its catastrophe. Father and daughter relationships and disappointment are just as important to this strong drama. Rose Desena – The Los Angeles Post SWEET Shirley Jo Finney directs her well-chosen cast brilliantly. Morna Murphy Martell – Theatre [...]

EST/LA presents Robert Joy and Eve Gordon in "The Ugly One" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo by Kevin Riggin.

THE UGLY ONE (EST/LA): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The director works her excellent actors to technical precision in timing and physicality, and they more than meet her energy. They improve on an already thrilling script, which of course is why one hires actors. Jason Rohrer – Stage and Cinema SWEET Given a sharply engaging English translation by Maja Zade, this West Coast [...]

Jason Karasev, Anna Khaja, and Joel Polis in "My Name is Asher Lev" at the Fountain Theatre. Photo by Ed Krieger.

MY NAME IS ASHER LEV: 94% – SWEET

SWEET The play isn’t an undiluted screed on behalf of unfettered art; it depicts the pain Asher’s parents undergo when they become the unwitting subjects of his masterpiece – and the conflicts this causes within the still-mostly-observant Asher. Don Shirley – LA Observed SWEET The story is not so surprising, but given the immediacy and [...]

Kevin Brief, Meredith Thomas and Nick Stabile in "The Trip Back Down" at the Whitefire Theatre. Photo: Ed Krieger.

THE TRIP BACK DOWN (WHITEFIRE THEATRE): 62% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET A full-throttle Whitefire Theatre revival revs “The Trip Back Down” up for a new spin, but unfortunately doesn’t restore John Bishop’s dated 1975 NASCAR-themed drama to street-legal status. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET Taking us into the world of competitive racecar drivers in 1975 … from the bawdy “rough ‘n tumble” lifestyle, to [...]

Thomas Vincent Kelly and Sal Viscuso in "A Steady Rain" at the Odyssey Theatre. Photo by Enci.

A STEADY RAIN: 100% – SWEET

SWEET The Odyssey has done a terrific job with this production. Adam Flemming’s set, consisting simply of two chairs and three screens upon which evocative images are projected, places the focus on the intensity of the subject matter. It’s expertly directed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company co-founder Jeff Perry, and kudos must also go to the [...]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

Ernest really likes Firemen currently playing at the Atwater Village Theatre. So did I. But as usual – especially when he’s feeling good about something – he lays it all down much better than I ever could. FIREMEN Ernest Kearney – Working Author The Echo Theater Company’s production of “Firemen” by Tommy Smith is a [...]

George Regout in "Nocturne" at The Other Space at the Actors Company. Photo: Ute Ville.

NOCTURNE (ACTORS COMPANY): 83% – SWEET

SWEET Adam Rapp’s hypnotic, intricately written elegy for the fallout from an unimaginable family tragedy receives a resolute production, in which noted Belgian actor George Regout makes an impressive North American stage debut as a 32-year-old former piano prodigy struggling to transcend the event that decimated his family and upended his life. David C. Nichols [...]

Peggy Ann Blow, Kevin Weisman, Carl J. Johnson, and Alana Dietze in "Villon" at the Odyssey Theatre. Photo by Miki Turner.

VILLON: 70% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER A play about a murderous French poet, told by a troupe of vaudevillian-style actors, seems it would be enough to spark some interest in an audience, but unfortunately Murray Mednick’s “Villon” falls seriously flat in its execution. Savannah L. Barker – Neon Tommy SWEET Like Villon’s troupe, these actors make sturdy, faithful companions to [...]

L to R, Kirk Kelleykahn, Shawn Savage and Ricco Ross in 'The Whipping Man,' a West Coast Jewish Theatre production at the Pico Playhouse. Photo: Michael Lamont.

THE WHIPPING MAN (PICO PLAYHOUSE): 91% – SWEET

SWEET Buoyed by an excellent production design, particularly Bill Froggatt’s haunting sound, director Howard Teichman and a crackling cast render a near-optimum staging. F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times SWEET This Matthew Lopez play would have made a fascinating two-hander. But the playwright added a third character and ratcheted up the intrigue, conflict, and shaping, [...]

"Firemen" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo:

FIREMEN: 93% – SWEET

SWEET Director Chris Fields’ stylishly sleight-of-hand staging (eloquently accented by Matt Richter’s dynamic lights) and a disarmingly appealing ensemble (including Amanda Saunders and Zach Callison) strike just the right balance between uneasy laughter and unpalatable titillation to drive home Smith’s unsettling portrait of a society whose most endangered species may be the moral and emotional [...]

The cast of "Passion Play" at the Odyssey Theatre. Photo: Enci.

PASSION PLAY (ODYSSEY/EVIDENCE ROOM): 79% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET If, like me, you’re a fan of the Evidence Room, go to enjoy the familiar faces. Otherwise enjoy the small stuff and forgive the production for not tying everything up. Anthony Byrnes – KCRW BITTERSWEET Despite their many strengths, I found parts one and two curiously uninvolving. It wasn’t until Ruhl came closer to [...]

Jennifer Shelton, Lindsey Alley, Marc Ginsburg with Brian Baker on piano in “Let’s Misbehave” at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Photo: Suzanne Mapes.

LET’S MISBEHAVE (ICT): 98% – SWEET

SWEET We never learn why these three are so tight to begin with, but who cares if they express their current thoughts and feelings through more than 30 of Porter’s songs? Which they do, with admirable precision and grace. Todd Nielsen directed and choreorgraphed, with musical arrangements by co-conceiver Patrick Young and music supervision by [...]

Jonathan Pessin and Mina Badie in "RX" at the Los Studio. Photo: Michael Lamont.

RX: 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET There are consolations, though, in the performances of Michael Dempsey, who plays an ad exec and a scientist (he also adds flair to the frequent set changes on the slapdash set credited to director Pleshette), and Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski’s soundtrack of popular songs enhanced with mood-drug references. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET True, [...]

ORWELLIAN: 80% – SWEET

ORWELLIAN: 80% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET With his lanky frame and emotionally subtle voice, Cedar is a brilliant storyteller and Orwell’s words come to life through his dryly ironic narration. However, clocking in at well under an hour, the piece’s brevity and straightforward simplicity ultimately work against it, and the material feels more like an academic exercise than a dramatic [...]

GOD’S GYPSY: 49% – BITTER

GOD’S GYPSY: 49% – BITTER

BITTER Daavid, in addition to designing the set, directed the play. But it wasn’t his direction that was at fault. It was the script. If it were cut to 90 minutes, the play might be worth seeing. Mostly, though, the “worth seeing” part is confined to Lili Haydn, a spectacular violinist and composer whose introductory [...]

Karen Anzoategui in "Ser!" at Los Angeles Theatre Center. Photo: Ed Krieger.

¡SER!: 94% – SWEET

SWEET These reservations notwithstanding, “¡Ser!” is singularly original and thoughtful, not to mention a lot of fun. With a few tweaks, like the endearing artist at midfield, it could easily kick its way into the world performance arena. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET Under Marcos Najera’s direction, Anzoategui’s performance avoids every pitfall of [...]

Erin Barnes, Rebecca Wackler, Talyan Wright, Joseph Patrick O'Malley, Barry Lynch and Kacey Camp in the Theatre Banshee production of "By The Bog of Cats." Photo: Moses Umbeke.

BY THE BOG OF CATS: 94% – SWEET

SWEET It’s not a perfect piece of writing—it could use some trimming and the first act is very exposition-heavy—but the L.A. premiere of the show by Theatre Banshee features a couple of superb performances and is ultimately quite powerful. Terry Morgan – LAist SWEET Ably directed by Sean Branney, the cast, led by Camp’s powerful, [...]

Katherine Canipe, Matthew Sklar, Jason Britt and Jordan Chappell in "Breaking and Entering" at Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre. Photo: Sebastian Munoz.

BREAKING AND ENTERING (ZOMBIE JOE’S UNDERGROUND): 88% – SWEET

SWEET Mitchell’s deft use of symbolism and character types provides solid entertainment for a wide range of viewers. Analytic minds can occupy themselves by considering the implications of the surreal elements, and casual theatergoers will enjoy the action and the staging of the drama. Scott Feinblatt – Horror Works SWEET The evening’s tale begins like [...]

Critique of the Week – Runner Runner Up

Critique of the Week – Runner Runner Up

This is just a study in analysis so beautifully and entertainingly done. Some of the imagery is just as good as you’ll see. THE PAIN AND THE ITCH Ernest Kearney – Working Author “The Pain and the Itch” from the pen of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Bruce Norris is unquestionably unsettling. Yet, in the theatre [...]

Kiara Lisette Gamboa, left, April Adams, Eric Hunicutt and Beverly Hynds in the Zephyr Theatre's "The Pain and the Itch." Photo: Ed Krieger.

THE PAIN AND THE ITCH (ZEPHYR THEATRE): 73% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Initially provocative, the tart humor grows rancid, the plotting feels heavy-handed and the characters are eviscerated so balefully that you may, defiantly, start to sympathize with them. If you do remember them at your own Thanksgiving table, you will also be glad you didn’t invite Bruce Norris. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET While [...]

Amie Farrell, Karen Jean Olds, Michael Cusimano and Afton Quast in “Don’t Dress for Dinner” at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Photo: Suzanne Mapes.

DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 95% – SWEET

SWEET Cleverly written and superbly acted, the farce set in 1960s France is as amusing a theatrical play as one could hope to find. Mike Skogmo – LifeInLA SWEET Fortunately, Nielsen and company know exactly when to play it big and when to play it authentic. There are physical comedy bits that will have you [...]

LOVECRAFT: NIGHTMARE SUITE (VISCERAL COMPANY RE-MOUNT): 96% – SWEET

LOVECRAFT: NIGHTMARE SUITE (VISCERAL COMPANY RE-MOUNT): 96% – SWEET

SWEET Their unfathomable talent is only met by the masterful stagecraft. Omar Najam – LifeInLA SWEET Their “Lovecraft: Nightmare Suite,” a reinvention of a play the founders put on years ago in a small off-Off Broadway theatre brings the beautifully creepy stories of cosmic horror visionary H.P. Lovecraft to life in a way their previous [...]